Phillies have a $28 million problem on their hands with Didi Gregorius

Didi Gregorius #18 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Didi Gregorius #18 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

Re-signing Didi Gregorius looks like a costly mistake by the Philadelphia Phillies.

This offseason, the Phillies signed Gregorius to a two-year, $28 million deal. With a little more than a month left in his first year of the deal, that’s … not looking so good.

OK, so it’s been downright ugly since.

Although he’d had a successful 60-game stint with the club in 2020, getting the team’s money’s worth out of the deal was going to be difficult if he hit more like the 2019 version of himself than the 2020 version.

Then he hit the injured list in late April with an elbow impingement and missed the next two months of the season entirely.

When he came back … the 2019 edition it was.

Didi Gregorius has been a huge disappointment for Phillies in 2021

Now, with the Phillies severely hard up for offense and in the midst of a 4-11 struggle that pushed the Phillies back below .500, During that time he has batted .235 with .592 OPS, generally from the four, five, and six spots in the lineup.

Not exactly what you’re hoping for from a middle-of-the-order “slugger.”

For the year Gregorius is hitting .218 with a .656 OPS. That’s a 78 OPS+. Not great, Bob.

His glove has at least continued to be above average, as you might expect, but it’s not exactly Fielding Bible award-worthy itself.

In a stat, he’s either a little worse than replacement level (-0.3 per Baseball Reference’s WAR) or a little bit better (0.3 per FanGraphs). Either way you bake the cookie it’s not worth the near $13 million he’s earning this year.

Nor without a heck of a bounce back season by the 32-year-old to-be will he be worth the $14.5 million he’ll be taking home next.

(And don’t forget, he’s taking home $2 million per year in ’23-’26 in deferred salary, so it’s going to be a while before this deal comes completely off the books.)

Didi Gregorius’ struggles are not lost on Phillies fans

Can the Phillies get Didi Gregarius back on track?

If you’re trying to find what’s wrong with Gregorius this year, the answer is pretty much “everything.”

His strikeout rate is as high as it’s been in any full season. His walk rate is down from last. He’s hitting with the least power he’s had since 2015.

The look at Baseball Savant gets even uglier.

He ranks in the eighth percentile in average exit velocity, ninth percentile in barreling up on the ball, third percentile in expected weighted On Base Average (xwOBA). And remember, closer to zero is worst. So 90%+ of MLB players are better than him in those categories.

And he’s not getting any younger.

While it’s probably too early to write him off completely — maybe you just have to chalk this up as a lost season after the arm injury in April — he’s got to dig out of a pretty big hole to make that $28 million contract worth it.